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Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q. CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.65 | 7 ratings

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Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
5 stars The fourth full-length album from the experimental/post metal band Liturgy sees a band that is determined to explore and push boundaries in the black metal sub-genre. Beginning as a purely black metal band, founder Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has remained constant along with Bernard Gann in seeing this band progress into new territory by diving head first into pushing his black metal band into experimental music and almost defining a new sound. These two, along with Tia Vincent-Clark and Leo Didkovsky present a very mature sounding album called 'H.A.Q.Q.' along with several guests.

The album is a complex concept album which delves into the philosophical System of Transcendental Qabbla illustrated by the diagram on the album cover. The letters of the album title stand for 'Haelegen above Quality and Quantity' and this reflects Hunt-Hendrix's Marxist and psychoanalytic vision of God according to the album description on Bandcamp. Speaking of Bandcamp, the digital download was released on November 12, 2019. There will be hard copies in the forms of vinyl and CD released in April of 2020. This is one album I wish I had known about earlier, because it would have certainly been on my list for Album of the Year. It is that good.

The music on this album is a study in contrast and extremes. The music moves from walls of brutal sound interrupted by glitched patchwork and supported by lovely melodic passages. You have the harsh brutality of tracks like 'Hajj' and 'Pasaqalia' where you also encounter interesting instruments pushed to their limits, like a recorder that still screams above the thick wall of guitar noise and screaming vocals. But it's so much more than that. There is a depth to this wall of noise that is difficult to find in music this harsh and heavy. Throughout these heavier tracks, vibes and piano still find a way to shine through, but without lightening the brutality of the tracks. On the other hand, you have the beautiful and textured, piano or vibraphone leading the three parts of 'Exaco' spread through the album. These contrasting sounds would normally clash with one another, but instead, they flow together as the album moves with hardly a break through its 45 minute run time.

As noted before, there is so much to pull out of this album. Another surprise is 'Virginity' which blasts through your speakers defying any other sound to penetrate, yet in the middle of it all a choir appears as the wall of noise accompanies. The screaming vocals are buried evenly in the mix, so they don't stand out, yet you know they are there. All of this time, the heavy noise just wraps itself around you, but its not annoying noise, somehow, it draws you in to the complex percussion and murky guitar wall. The best track here is the multi-faceted 'God of Love' which starts like a lovely, string filled melody that suddenly morphs into tortured, screaming vocals and abused guitars and drums. Suddenly, a repeating motif brings us into a textured sound unlike anything else out there which is interspersed by hammering riffs. This section just defies description and has to be heard to be believed.

This music is not for just anyone. You have to be able to tolerated that abused vocals of Hunt-Hendrix, the electronic glitches used throughout, the hammering drums and thick wall of black guitar noise that can suddenly give way to melodic and pensive passages that emerge from the wall of noise like it has every right to be there. You can't really appreciate this album though, it you just skip through it, it has to be experienced as you give the entire thing your undivided attention. I normally have a low tolerance for extreme vocalizations, but still tend to find jewels among the bands that use them. This is one of those jewels that would have easily fit in my favorites for 2019 had I known of its existence.

If you love your music unpredictable, dynamic, noisy and strong, yet deep and often beautiful and dissonant, this is for you. Even though it was argued in the band's first years of existence as to whether they should have been included in progressive music circles, after this album and their previous album, there is no doubt that they belong here, and in a big way. Many will be turned off by its extremities, but I find this album a masterpiece of sound and texture that at times can be very difficult to describe.

TCat | 5/5 |


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